Published Friday, July 24, 2020 8:11PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 24, 2020 10:14PM EDT
Teresa Tam’s warning came as the number of daily new cases in Canada crept higher, with data showing more than 60 per cent of cases this week were people under the age of 39. Nearly one-third of them were hospitalized. Those aged 20 to 39 also accounted for the highest incidence rates across all age groups over the last two weeks.
“This is your generation and your future that is being shaped. Younger age groups are not invincible against COVID-19,” said Tam, adding that with fewer than one per cent of Canadians likely to have been infected with the virus, the population remained highly susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
“If we let our guard down, that disease will work its way to our parents, grandparents, and other vulnerable people who need to be protected through our actions. Now is the chance to be a lifesaver. We all need to take this disease -- and our responsibility to protect others -- seriously.”
Her warning about younger adults contracting the virus echoed that of her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, who expressed similar concerns last week. Tam said the upward trend in new daily infections was worrisome and urged Canadians, especially younger adults, to not give into “COVID-19 fatigue”.
“A third of the people in this young age group ended up hospitalized. That's not a small number -- that's a large number,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu added.
CURVES ON UPSWING
Canada’s daily numbers had been declining over the last two months after peaking at 2,760 cases in a single day on May 3. It fell as low as 216 new cases at the beginning of July. But as provinces began reopening and with summer in full swing, Canada’s curve has been on a slow and steady upward bend.
There were 534 new cases on Friday across the country. The seven-day average daily case count was 505 cases. Two weeks earlier, that average was close to 280 cases. Western provinces especially have been seeing their curves rise more sharply. The number of active cases per capita in Alberta and Saskatchewan, for example, stood at 29.2 and 18.4 for every 100,000 residents as of July 24. In Ontario that figure was 10.1 and Quebec was 22.4.
B.C. higher numbers are believed to have originated from Canada Day parties that resulted in 70 cases and more than 1,000 people going into self-isolation. In Alberta, health officials are especially concerned because it is still unclear what is driving the higher case count. In Calgary, for example, nearly every part of the city is seeing its curve rise.
With these rising numbers, Tam urged younger adults to continue to observe public health measures, but acknowledged that health officials needed to also do a better job communicating and engaging with that particular age group.